Sunday, September 9, 2012

SEC Fan's Guide to Mizzou Baseball: Mizzou Assistant Coaches

Matt Hobbs & Kerrick Jackson
Columbia Tribune
From 2004 through 2010 the Mizzou full-time coaching staff consisted of a former catcher (Tim Jamieson, New Orleans 1978-81), a former shortstop (Evan Pratte, Southwest Missouri State, 1988-91), and a former infielder/outfielder (Tony Vitello, Missouri, 1999-02).  Pratte was the hitting coach and Vitello was the pitching coach.

After the 2010 season, Vitello left join the staff at TCU (not as the pitching coach) and Pratte moved laterally to the Director of Baseball Operations job.

Proving again that he is more interested in having the people he wants on his staff regardless of any sort of traditional job qualifications, Tim Jamieson hired two former pitchers.

Matt Hobbs had been a semi-successful pitcher for Jamieson's Tigers from 1999-2002, posting a 12-9 record in four years.

Kerrick Jackson had been a semi-successful pitcher at St, Louis Community College-Meramec(94--95), Bethune Cookman (96) and Nebraska (97).

Hobbs is now the pitching coach at MU, while Jackson is the recruiting coordinator and hitting/fielding coach.

Kerrick Jackson, it should be noted, has worn many hats and has dabbled in just about every aspect of baseball coaching and recruiting.  He has been an assistant coach or graduate assistant at 6 different colleges and junior colleges prior to joining the staff at Missouri.  He has coached in the Cape Cod League and in summer prep development leagues.  And for the three years prior to coming to Mizzou, he was the Midwest Area Scouting Supervisor for the Washington Nationals. Jackson, ironically, was the scout who recommended the Washington Nationals draft MU's Aaron Crow, a draft pick that didn't turn out so well.

Matt Hobbs has done a good job with the pitching staff.  It's very clear, listening to players and their families talk about him, that he is well liked and respected by his pitching staff.  In his second season, in 2012, the Tiger bullpen was the most reliable and effective it has been for years.  Two years isn't much to go on, but I like what I'm seeing so far.

Kerrick Jackson's role in coaching is more quiet and behind the scenes.  He can often be seen offering encouragement and guidance in the dugout during games.  Jackson's greatest impact, though, has been as the recruiting coordinator.  His experience as a pro scout and his long time connections in the St. Louis area and throughout the Midwest have resulted in a noticeable uptick in the number of great recruits being signed from those areas.

Matt Hobbs' Playing Career (, 8/15/10)

Matt Hobbs, Pitching Coach (, 8/14/10)

Matt Hobbs' Bio at

Kerrick Jackson: Scout, Coach, Jack-o-All-Baseball-Trades (, 8/16/10)

♦ Kerrick Jackson's Bio at

New coaches putting a stamp on MU baseball (Columbia Tribune, October 2010)
Hobbs said his pitching philosophy mirrors that which Vitello, with whom Hobbs played at MU, had long preached. Jackson, meanwhile, said he has always preferred an offensive approach that gets runners on base and keeps the opposing pitcher under pressure.

“The stuff that was here in place was phenomenal,” said Hobbs, who was the pitching coach at San Francisco last year after spending three years at UC San Diego. “I feel I’ve brought some things that are a little bit different but not so far outside of the realm of what they were already doing.”

A lot of what Missouri is doing closely resembles what the Tigers have always done during Tim Jamieson’s tenure. So after learning from coaches outside the program, Hobbs’ arrival signals little more than a tweak.

Saying he’s often compared notes with Vitello over the past eight years, Hobbs said he will have a structured schedule for pitchers to follow on their off-days. He will have a regimented plan in place as far as when and how far a pitcher will throw between appearances, but that each pitcher’s routine can be altered to fit his needs.

“As a pitching coach, I think the most important thing is putting the tools in place for the guys to be successful,” Hobbs said, “and then allowing them to be successful.”

As a former pitching coach, Jackson said he knows the benefit of playing a pressure offense and how putting runners — especially speedy runners — on base can influence what happens on the mound.

Dan Pietroburgo, a former catcher for the Tigers, has been a volunteer assistant coach for the past four years. It's expected he will be back in that role this coming season. Dan is a prolific Tweeter @CoachPietro

Walk-on earns his keep for Missouri baseball team (Columbia Missourian, 4/20/2008)
“It’s hard to find a guy that hangs around for the length of time that Dan has without all the rewards that you get by playing every day,” Jamieson said. “He’s a big part of why we’ve been successful the last five years.”

Pietroburgo, however, sees his own rise as slightly less meteoric than another, which, coming from a guy that was once an afterthought, might be the most astonishing thing of all.

“More than anything, it’s just the ultimate success of the team that I’m enjoying,” he said. “I would have imagined myself playing before I would have imagined us being at this level.”

Travis Wendte, a former Tiger pitcher, and Hunter Mense, a former Tiger player, also were graduate assistants in 2012. Wendte has moved on to another job.  Mense will be back for the coming season.  Former Tiger relief pitcher Jeff Emens is stepping into Wendte's spot as a graduate assistant coach.

Rob Pietroburgo
photo by Stephen Anderson

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